Google’s Knol Issues Big Challenge To Wikipedia

Knol is a project planned by Google for user-generated articles on topics ranging from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions. Currently, it is in Beta, and is soon to be released.

Knol is a wiki-like platform. Authors can create topics, and tools are available to interlink articles and content. Where it differs from a wiki is its focus on the author. All knols will highlight the name of author.

That is the central difference between Knol and Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a collaborative system. There is no author listed on a wiki page because a page may have many authors.

Since Knol pages will be authored, users won’t, presumably, be able to dive in and edit another page. They’ll be able to submit edits to the author for approval, though. So much for open collaboration. But as a platform for authors who might want to make some money from their work, it’s a better bet (Knol will allow authors to monetize their pages as they see fit).

If Google Knol launches, will Wikipedia or Squidoo see a mass migration of writers? Or, does Google’s capitulation indicate the validity of Wikipedia’s business model? We will have to wait till the official launch to find the answer.

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